The Melancholy Ballad of the Clockwork Soldier
During the Victorian era, a young soldier is mortally wounded in battle. His body is restored using metal and clockwork parts. Although he survives (indeed, his new body effectively makes him immortal), he believes that he has become a monster, and is later denied the love of his dearest lady.
In youth, I was a handsome man
Who gave all thought to play,
Beloved of a maiden fair...
Then war took me away.
I travelled far across the sea
And entered earthly Hell.
Within a foreign land I fought,
And in that land I fell.
My body torn, my beauty scarred,
They said I'd not survive.
I stared into the face of Death -
But turned away alive.
A skillful doctor came to me,
Hearing of my distress.
Although the fight had claimed my flesh,
I still had usefulness.
He said, "Through you, I'll find a way
To end the wounded's strife.
A metal body I will make,
And grant you endless life."
Dull moulded copper formed my arm,
A clock replaced my heart,
Cold cogs and gears filled all the gaps -
Inventor's work of art.
They said, "You will be stronger now,
You're made of oil and steel!"
But I was not a mere machine -
I could still think... and feel.
I gazed into the looking-glass
And screamed to God on high.
A beast was staring back at me!
(Alas, that beast was I!)
I thought of Jenny, my dear love
Awaiting me back home.
Her heart would surely seize in shock
Seeing what I'd become.
The tear-stained letters she had sent -
"I long to see your face!"
Would she accept a metal man
Into her warm embrace?
They dressed me up. They sent me home.
I locked myself away.
I hid my twisted metal form
From the cruel light of day.
Jenny would call, with loving heart,
And sit down at my side.
I met her only in the dark,
As Cupid did his bride.
One day, I reached out for her hand.
She gasped upon the feel.
"Why, Jack!" she cried. "Whatever's wrong?"
Your grasp's as cold as steel!"
Before I could make my reply
She filled the room with light.
She saw my cogs and metal limbs
And gasped upon the sight.
"Dear God!" she cried. "Where is my Jack?
He has the fairest face!
What is this monsterous machine
That sits here in his place?"
"My love, 'tis I," I told her true,
"War took my looks away.
They made me a machine so I
Could live, and with you stay."
"The vicious fiends!" my Jenny cried,
"Why did they choose to save
My Jack, to build this beast! I wish
They'd left you in the grave!"
Repulsed by me, she turned and fled.
Our love was at an end.
Gears gave me life, but they denied
The love of wife or friend.
Flesh may break down, but steel does not.
Copper won't wear away.
I cannot die. I'm forced to live.
In torment I must stay.
Alone, I cry, "Dear God above!
Save me, for mercy's sake!
How is it that I feel such pain?
I have no heart to break!"